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Bright Idea? Scientists Say Women Should Take Tamoxifen Drugs For 5 Years to "Survive"

An irresponsible and biased recommendation from British scientists encourages women to take the dangerous drug tamoxifen for at least five years, ironically to prevent death.

Many women come to their senses and choose not to finish their course of tamoxifen treatment after experiencing unpleasant side-effects such as hot flushes, headaches and fatigue, not to mention the worry about the raised risk of blood clots, cataracts, cancer and stroke. Others may question the benefits and whether they outweight the risks.

But scientists say women should not follow their instincts and stick to the protocol. 'Women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer who are prescribed tamoxifen are recommended to take the drug for five years, but we know that many stop after two or three,' said study co-author Allan Hackshaw of the Cancer Research UK and University College London Cancer Trials Centre.

Of the nearly 3,500 patients studied in the trial over 10 years, the cancer came back in around 40 per cent of those who took tamoxifen for five years, compared to 46 percent among those who took it for two years.

The study did not suggest why the discrepency existed. For example, did the women who took the drug for two years lead very unhealthy lifestyles to allow the cancer to fluorish? Did the women who took the the drug for five years tend to lead healthier lifestyles which allowed them to overcome the cancer regardless of medical treatment?

What are the chances that Cancer Research UK, the largest independent cancer research organization in the world, has no influence or biased funding from bigpharma? None is right.

Cancer Research UK (CRUK) funds the University College London Cancer Trials Centre and since CRUK receives funding from sources such as AstraZeneca and Pfizer, any study coming from any of these institutions is biased. Did I mention that AstraZeneca makes tamoxifen? You do the math.

Dangers of Tamoxifen

Since tamoxifen interferes with estrogen receptors and activity, it keeps the hormone from interacting with all cells, not just cells that make up breast tissue.

The National Cancer Institute warns that tamoxifen may cause cancer as it tries to prevent it. Some women taking tamoxifen as a course of treatment for breast cancer are at an increased risk of developing endometrial and gastrointenstinal cancers.

Uterine growths such as polyps, tumors, endometrial thickenings and cancers occur in a significant number of women. One study detected abnormal endometrial cells in subjects the day after the first tablet was taken!

In a recent study, precancerous uterine and endometrial changes were seen in 10% of the women taking tamoxifen. The higher the dose of tamoxifen, and the longer it is taken, the greater the risk of changes. Women taking the standard dose for two years run the risk of uterine cancer that is 2 to 3 times greater than normal. After five years the risk is 6 to 8 times greater than normal.

In February 1996 a review composed of scientists from various countries concluded "that there is sufficient evidence to regard tamoxifen as a human carcinogen that increases a woman's risk of developing.... cancer of the endometrium, the inner lining of the uterus."

When the news came out reporting that breast cancer patients who take tamoxifen for five years or longer might have triple the risk of uterine cancer, many researcher said that "it's no big deal" since early detection of endometrial cancer rarely results in death. That statement infuriated critics who noted that the treatment for uterine cancer is a hysterectomy. However, now it is known that breast cancer patients who develop uterine cancer while using tamoxifen are likely to have a fast moving, lethal form of the disease.

In September 2000, The Lancet reported a study which showed that the drug tamoxifen, often used to treat breast cancer and as a preventive in some high risk women as well, increased the risk of developing endometrial cancer. In addition, this risk increased with time, leading researchers to question the use of the drug in healthy women. It found that women who took tamoxifen for 2 to 5 years had twice the risk of the cancer as women who have not taken it. Women who had taken it for 5 years or more have a seven times higher risk of endometrial cancer. The total increased risk for all women who used tamoxifen at all was 50%. Advanced endometrial cancers were more common in women who had taken tamoxifen long-term than in those who had not. The 3-year survival for endometrial cancer was "significantly worse" for long-term tamoxifen users.

Liver Cancer and Liver Disease
Tamoxifen is toxic to the liver and can cause acute hepatitis. The latest human studies show a six-fold increase in liver cancer among women taking tamoxifen for more than 2 years. Liver failure and tamoxifen-induced hepatitis, although rare, have been reported. While Zeneca, the manufacturer of tamoxifen admits that it is a liver carcinogen, it still continues to aggressively promote its use.

Another potential danger of tamoxifen is an increased risk of cataracts. This condition is marked by a clouding over the lens of the eye. As cataracts develop, your eyesight begins to seem foggy, making it difficult to see especially in the dark. It also can make it hard to read, see things in the distance and drive. A surgical procedure can correct this problem if it arises.

Menopausal Symptoms
Tamoxifen often induces menopausal symptoms in young women. About half of the women experience hot flashes, fluid retention, weight gain, vaginal discharge, and vaginal atrophy. Some studies have also found that premenopausal users are at risk of developing accelerated bone mineral loss and osteoporosis. Menstrual irregularities also occur in premenopausal women. Amenorrhea ( absence of the menstrual cycle) often results and can be permanent.

Tamoxifen also increases your risk of stroke. This is largely due to the increased number of blood clots that can occur during the systematic use of the medication. If a blood clot were to form within one of the arteries transporting blood to the brain, it could reduce or cut off the blood supply to the brain, depriving it of oxygen and other nutrients. This causes cells within the brain to die, eliciting dizziness, loss of balance, speech difficulties, vision disruptions, loss of consciousness and numbness or paralysis to one side of the body.

Blood Clots

Tamoxifen irritates the walls of the veins. The constant irritation and inflammation weakens the veins causing bleeding, clotting, thrombophlebitis, and in the worst cases -- obstruction of the blood vessels serving the lungs which can be deadly and occur with little warning. Several studies showed that the risk of developing life-threatening blood clots increased as much as seven times in women taking tamoxifen.

Vocal Cord Changes
Tamoxifen can also cause changes to the vocal cords resulting in impairment of singing and speaking abilities.

Psychological Symptoms

Depression has been reported as a potential side-effect of tamoxifen in 30% of women. Cases have been reported of an inability to concentrate.

Real Prevention

Optimal prevention of breast cancer can not be found in a pill or medical office. It starts with making wise choices about your diet and lifestyle.

Most women at high risk for breast cancer do not increase their life expectancy by taking the drug tamoxifen, according to an analysis by researchers from UC Davis, UCSF, the University of Pittsburgh and McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.

The 'cancer industry' is a generic term for the ever-expanding industry which has grown up around the disease of cancer. It is a vast industry incorporating all services, products, materials and technologies required for the orthodox management of the disease. They will never find you an effective treatment or cure. Their goal is to keep people sick.

Primary prevention is not their objective...never has been and never will be. The reason is simple. Prevention does not generate profits.

An MSU analysis of national media's coverage of the disease found that over a two-year period, 31 percent of the 231 stories that appeared in some of the country's top newspapers, magazines and television networks focused on treatment, while only 18 percent looked at prevention.

Your best protection against breast cancer is vitamin D, sunlight and exercise.

According to Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a combination may be the best approach. Data collected over a decade of study from 67,721 women indicated that postmenopausal women living in sunny climes combined with high dietary or supplemental intakes of vitamin D were at a significantly reduced risk of breast cancer compared to women with high sun exposure and low intakes of the vitamin.

Two new vitamin D studies using a sophisticated form of analysis called meta-analysis, in which data from multiple reports is combined, revealed new prescriptions for possibly preventing up to half of the cases of breast cancer and two-thirds of the cases of colorectal cancer in the United States. The work was conducted by a core team of cancer prevention specialists at the Moores Cancer Center at University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and colleagues from both coasts.

Principles of Cancer Fighting

• Consume a healthy diet, with an emphasis on plant sources. Eat at least nine servings (or as many as possible) of a variety of vegetables and fruits each day. Drink Green Tea. Stick to high-fibre cereals and choose whole grains as much as possible. Limit your intake of processed and red meats.
The Benefits of Eating Broccoli
Aging and Immunity
Anti-Cancer Compound in Green Tea Identified
Fibre 'Lowers Breast Cancer Risk'
Cancer-Fighting Foods, Supplements

• Stay physically active. This not only helps with weight control, but may also reduce the risk of some cancers in other ways.
Exercise May Beat Breast
Cancer in the Long Run

Vigorous Exercise Associated
With Reduced Breast Cancer Risk

Insight Into The Anti-Cancer Effect Of Exercise
Exercise Prevents Skin and Bowel Cancer
More Evidence Exercise Prevents Cancer
Exercise May Cut Older Women's Breast Cancer Risk
Exercise & Preventing Disease


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